When I was a student at UConn, most of the small dorms had cafeterias in them. In Goodyear, we were known to have the best cook on campus, who we simply called Jim.
When the first Iraq war started, his reserve unit was called up, and he was sent to cook for the troops. We are scared for him, of course, but also a little nervous for our stomachs. He was that good a cook.
When Jim shipped out, our new cook, Samantha, came on board. She smartly stuck to the basics at first, and though she didn’t have Jim’s ability, the food was fine.
Then one day we came downstairs to large bowls full of brown …. somethings. Samantha told us they were smelt. I didn’t know at the time, but smelt is generally a bait fish, and not typically cooked for a meal.
They were breaded and fried, and looked completely unappetizing. Unfortunately, their looks matched their taste: barely edible. On every table in the cafeteria the giant bowls of fish were mostly untouched, as we made due with the potatoes and veggies.
Then I was struck by a smelt. I looked up to see my friend at the next table grinning devilishly. I threw one back at him, and yelled “Smelt fight!!”
Immediately, every hand was digging into the bowls, lobbing fish by the fist full. In seconds, the air was thick with smelt. For a moment we couldn’t even see each other as we hurled the tiny fish at each other.
Gravity took over, and the smelt fell to the floor. We we all laughing, grinning, exultant in our Animal House college moment.
Then it all went bad.
Next time: How it all went bad.